A top California family court judge has blasted ultra feminists'
efforts to undermine the state's child-centered joint custody law.
Using strong language, Los Angeles County Superior Court
Commissioner-Judge Richard A. Curtis in a 4500-word statement, urged
the California Legislature to turn down bills violating the principle
that children need the love and nurture of both parents.
He described AB 2116, one of three pending bills, as "...a mean-
spirited attack on joint custody brought on behalf of angry,
embittered parents who are incapable of cooperation in their chil-
dren's best interest and who only wish to bend the court system and
our healthy, child-centered body of law to their end of controlling
their children and controlling the other parent through their
Although unnamed, his target in part was the National Organization of
Women, leader of a drive aimed at legislatively emasculating the
state's strong joint custody law that serves as a national model.
Current anti-joint custody proposals would:
* delete from the joint custody law a requirement for "frequent and
continuing contact" for the noncustodial parent,
* delete language instructing judges in awarding custody to consider
which parent is more likely to allow children contact with the
* bar judges from awarding joint custody if either parent objects,
* free the custodial parent to move with the children without court
* tie the child's welfare to a "healthy primary relationship" (ie,
* declare psychological adjustment "not related to particular
visitation or frequency or length of visits," and
* stress the importance for the children of the "primary caretaker."
"Primary caretaker," is the code phrase, he charged, "for a lot of
inappropriate public policy statements they wish to promulgate."
Using it, their ultimate goal is to transfer custody determinations
from judges to administrators.
"They don't want equality, they don't want justice, they don't want
individuals dealt with as unique people with individual needs . . .
They would be perfectly satisfied with an administrative hearing
system which delivers cookie cutter results so long as they're
playing with a deck stacked in their favor," he declared. Studies
have shown, he pointed out, that single custodial fathers are every
bit as capable of nurturing their children in their own way. Passage
of the bills, in effect, would intensify litigation and nullify
current practices' success in persuading couples to mediate and
settle. Such nonlegal techniques, however, simply don't work, he
added, for the five percent "who aren't too tightly wrapped."
"But it is very important that the trial court continue to have the
power to impose joint custody on the far larger majority . . .who
come to court . . .tightly wrapped but in an uncooperative frame of
mind. ...most such parents will learn to put aside their differences
for the sake of giving their children a peaceful life and benefits of
having two involved parents."
To the contrary, he warned, "if the backers manage to hornswoggle the
Legislature into passing this bill, they will have succeeded in
getting you to say, 'The public policy . . . is to discourage parents
to share the rights and responsibilities of child-rearing. They will
have succeeded in (putting) the child right back into the middle of
their petty personal conflicts..."
The bill backers, he concluded, "like all zealots, victims, and self-
righteous people, have a peculiarly warped view of reality which
prevents them from seeing the other side. . . They are very, very
dangerous, one-sided and unbalanced people from whom to take public
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